Going against the norm

So, a few months back I decided to do the unspeakable career-wise. I quit my job. Not only that, but I didn’t have another position lined up. (Cue the exaggerated gasps.) Let’s cut to the chase – quitting your professional job when you are thirtysomething will result in…err, unsolicited judgment.

“You quit your job, huh?” some would say.

“I wish I didn’t have to work either,” many would often add.

“Uh, I am going work. I am going to write,” I would respond.

“But how are you going to do that?”

“Well, I am going to take some time in order to …”

It was around this point in the conversation when I could tell that my response was coming across like the adult voices in Charlie Brown. What those who tuned out did not hear was my intention to take some time and develop a plan to go after my dream job – having my own writing business.

But I get the reaction. I really do. Because we’re taught that it is not the norm to just up and leave a regular paying job for the pursuit of something that has no immediate means of guaranteed income.

I also know that a lot of folks saw my decision as a cop-out. That not sticking with my “regular” job, no matter how much I yearned for something different, was taking the easy road out. But you know what, this wasn’t easy. It was hard. Really hard. In fact, it was downright terrifying. The day after my last day in the office at my former “regular” job, I sat down at the computer and thought “Okay, now what?” I was overwhelmed and nervous. And I started to wonder if maybe all those naysayers were right about this being a bad decision. Thankfully my husband is the gold standard of husbands, and he has never wavered in his support of my career goal and is always ready to offer a much-needed “You’ve got this” (and sometimes a glass  – or two – of wine as well).

I’ve also learned to not worry about defending my new career path. When I was a journalist, people would nod approvingly and ask all sorts of questions about my work when they found out I was a newspaper editor. When I made the switch to communications, though it did not garner quite the same level of interest that being an editor did, people would still smile politely. Then came freelancing. Those introductions went something like this:

“My name is Joe Smith. Nice to meet you.”

“Nice to meet you, Joe. My name is Erin.”

“What line of work are you in, Erin?”

“I’m a freelance writer.”

“A what now?”

“A freelance writer. I’m starting my own business actually and –”

“I see.” **Joe Smith turns away to join another conversation.

At first, it was a painful realization that many do not think of freelance writing as a “real job.” But then came another realization: I didn’t do this for them. I did it for me. Because, as cliché as it is, life is much too short to go through it with a list of “what ifs.”

Now, it wouldn’t be fair if I did not add that I have also received incredible support for my decision from lots of folks. Some being almost strangers. I’m grateful for every word of encouragement has helped boost my confidence and excitement.

Sadly, I don’t yet have a crystal ball that can tell me what this freelance thing holds in store for me. But, to tell you the truth, I kind of like that. So I will just I have to deal with the challenges as they come while being able to know that I had the courage to take the leap and go after my dream.

Because there is absolutely nothing wrong with following your dream, even if it happens to lead you astray a little and you end up needing to dust yourself off and start again. After all, I think we all know what that road to hell is paved with.

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